Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Get it going

It doesn't take much to get something going. It takes someone who has faith. It takes someone who simply does what is in their heart. I saw this video and it made me think how the little things we do can make a world of difference. If we just step out in faith and believe that God can change things, it will happen. So watch and enjoy. Then go out and make a difference.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Do you need a break on your groceries?

Angel Food ministries began about fifteen years ago by a married couple, Joe and Linda Wingo, who wanted to help their neighbors meet their grocery bills. Joe was a pastor and had a heart for the Lord's work. It started small back then in rural Georgia. The idea caught on and before long there were more and more churches working together to make a difference.

In Norwich we are partnering with Christ Church to help make a difference here. The best part is that they are doing all the work and we are simply getting the word out. Cathy Crosby is the director of the program over there and she takes orders in person or by mail each month. She coordinates the pick up and delivery of it. All you have to do is show up at Christ Church and receive the blessing.

Angel Food is available in a quantity that can fit into a medium-sized box at $30 per unit. Each month's menu is different than the previous month and consists of both fresh and frozen items with an average retail value of approximately $60. Comparison shopping has been done across the country in various communities using a wide range of retail grocery stores and has resulted in the same food items costing from between $42 and $78.

Generally, one unit of food assists in feeding a family of four for about one week or a single senior citizen for almost a month. The food is all the same high quality one could purchase at a grocery store. There are no second-hand items, no damaged or out-dated goods, no dented cans without labels, no day-old breads and no produce that is almost too ripe.

There is no limit to the number of units or bonus foods an individual can receive, and there are no applications to complete or qualifications to which participants must adhere. Angel Food Ministries also participates in the U.S. Food Stamp program, using the Off-Line Food Stamp Voucher system.

How do you place an order with Angel Food at Christ Episcopal Church?

1. Come to the Christ Church office during office hours for Angel Food.
Mondays 2-5 pm
Tuesdays 4-7 pm
Fridays 1-5 pm

Methods of payment accepted are: credit or debit card, cash, money order, bank check, or food stamps. (Money orders and bank checks payable to Christ Church)

2. Online at using your credit or debit card ($1 processing fee) – Make sure you have entered info for Christ Episcopal Church, Norwich, CT. You might want to check out the monthly selections online to see what is available.

3. Mail your order to the church with your money order or bank check.

4. On Distribution Day to place an order for the following month.
(Food stamp orders need to be done in person.)
Angel Food Ministries

If you have further questions, contact Cathy Cosby, (cecangelfood@yahoo or 860-886-9075,) the director of the local program working through Christ Church. In these difficult economic times, this is one way the churches are helping to meet the need.

If you live outside the Norwich, CT area, go online and see if there is a church or distribution center in your neck of the woods. Angel Food ministries are now operating in 35 states.


Monday, September 28, 2009

I hope it isn't an omen for the current edition of the Detroit Tiger's baseball team, but today the team remembered and celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the last Tiger's World Series winners. Because of the rain, they moved the reunion inside and it wasn't quite the party they hoped for.

The current edition of the Tigers is trying to hold on and withstand the storm that is carrying the Minnesota Twins along. For the next four days, the teams will tangle and whoever comes out on top, will be going to the play-offs.

I'm hoping that these guys coming back will inspire the 2009 edition of the Tigers. Seeing and talking to Alan Trammell and Jack Morris, Dan Petry and Lance Parrish, Darrell Evans and Larry Herndon will remind the guys to hold their heads high and to go out there with the swagger that champions have.

I came of age with that team. Just as I was taking the world by storm as a young pastor, they were heading to the World Series. They were my team. They inspired me that summer and made me believe.

As I thought about that, it made me think about the church. In a perfect world the church should do the same thing for us. It should inspire us to reach out with the love of God to transform the world. Unfortunately the church, like my team, has had its ups and downs over the years. Sometimes human pride gets in the way and we end up losing favor. Sometimes we reach out and fight for justice and we come away with a world series type win.

Ask Sparky Anderson and he will tell you that the key to winning is to keep your eye on the ball. When the church keeps its eyes on Jesus and follows his lead, we will always come away winners. I'm not sure what the Tigers will do this year, but I have high hopes for the church.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

God and evil

Why is there evil in the world? It is a question we all ask. Whether you believe in God or not, we want to believe that life is fair and that justice will prevail. When it doesn't we get angry. We blame God. We point to the stories that tell of his love and say this proves it is a lie.

I came across this video tonight. It purports to be a recreation of Albert Einstein when he was a school boy.

Snopes says this never happened. The truth is that it doesn't matter. It is a parable that speaks to a deep truth. Evil exists when people turn their backs on God and turn on their neighbors. When God's love is absent, evil takes center court.

I think that is why it so important for the church to step up today and speak for Christ not only with words but with loving acts. We need to show the world what the power of love and grace can do.

Check out the video. Cut and paste it into your browser window.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Chynna & Vaughn bring Christ into their music

I was reading an online article in Charisma magazine about these two young ladies and I clicked on the link to listen to their music. I fell in love with it and downloaded their CD.

Chynna Phillip's mother and father were members of the musical group "the Mamas and Papas" but she has created a niche of her own. After spending a few years with the pop group Wilson Phillips she has decided to go into the gospel market with her friend and partner Vaughn Penn. Chynna says, "Nothing is more gratifying as a Christian believer than being able to thread my faith and love for Jesus into my music."

Check out their web site and see if you can listen to an audio clip of their music.

I had this crazy idea that it would be fun to bring them up here to Connecticut. What do you think?" would you help make it happen? Let me know.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jesus saves

This song touched my heart tonight so I thought I would share it with you.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The real God

Today at the Rotary Club meeting we honored one of our members for his fifty years in Rotary. Cliff Wilson was a young physician in town when he joined the club in 1959. Four years later he was installed as the club's President. Today he shared some memories from his active years and recalled some of the guest speakers who blessed our club over the years.

I was moved by his testimony today. I've known Dr. Wilson for years. I've always though of him as a nice man and very friendly. This afternoon I saw another side of him.

It's funny how we create an image in our mind of some people. We take a few external clues and turn them into a picture of someone's personality, likes and dislikes, and create an image of them that we assume is accurate. Then we we get to know them, we find out that there is so much more substance behind the man or woman.

The same is true. Many of us picture him as some benevolent old man who sits on a throne in heaven. We pretty much assume he is impotent to do anything about our situations. We think of his advice a being pretty much useless in the real world. As a result we lose out on the tremendous power he gives those who call on his name. Time after time the Scriptures reveal how much God can do and how much he wants to do for us. If only we would believe the whole world would be ours.

So stop reducing your image of God to something you can hold on to. Let it grow to its full reality and grab onto it and enjoy the blessings.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pause and pray

Talk about a jinx. This morning I came to church and began working on the computer. First my palm pilot wouldn't sync and update my desktop calendar. Then when I went to print out a page from my blog, the printer malfunctioned. I'm a pretty smart guy so I came up with a solution. I would print it from my auxiliary printer. I pushed the button and the error light came on alerting me to a printer malfunction here as well.

It's been one of those mornings where I should just walk out of the office and come back again in fifteen minutes as if I was never here. So why won't I do that? Pride. Most of us keep doing he same old thing again and again even if it doesn't work because we don't want to admit we can't do it ourselves.

The truth is that sometimes we need help from above. We need help from someone who isn't caught up in the situation. We need help from someone who can give us a fresh perspective. That is what God offers us. The Bible is full of wisdom on how to live life and how to find our purpose. It points us to the path that will bring us many blessings. But we would rather find our own way.

Maybe it is a man thing and I do mean man as in humanity. From the time of the Fall we have chosen to believe that we know more than God. When the tempter said, "Did God say you will die if you eat?" we have continued to question God's wisdom. What has it gotten us? Error messages and out of sync lives are the price we have paid for our pride.

So you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to pause, say a little prayer and then go away for a little while. When I come back I am going to start over and if I have a problem I will go to the book and see if I can learn from the creator.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Don't miss your opportunity

Missed opportunities. We all know what they are. I was watching my Detroit Tigers play on Saturday. They were winning 2 -1 and they had men on second and third in one inning and bases loaded in another inning. Both times they failed to bring in any more runners. They missed their opportunity to put the game away. Hey, they had their ace on the mound. Maybe they weren't trying very hard. Maybe they thought they had the game won. Who knows?

In the eighth inning the Twins got a couple of men on and then the Tiger left fielder made an error. Two runs scored. The next man walked and the following man got on with another error. The third batter hit a home run to the deepest part of the ball park. Game over. A 6 -2 loss was the result. Minnesota didn't waste their opportunity and they came out ahead.

Fast forward a day to Sunday and I was watching my Pittsburgh Steelers play the Bears. The Steelers scored early and seemed to have the upper hand. Late in the game they were driving down the field again and were stopped short of the goal line. They brought in their place kicker and he lined up to kick a field goal. The play began and he missed it.

Before long the Steelers got another chance. They drove down the field and tried a second field goal. They missed again. When the Bears got the ball back they wasted little time going down the field. When they got their shot at a field goal, they made it and ended up winning the game.

These two scenarios that were played out in the realm of sports happen every day in our lives. God gives us plenty of opportunities to be a blessing to others. Too often we can't take advantage of them. We take our eyes off the ball or we take too much for granted and we let them slip by.

Have you ever felt you should give someone a call to check in? Have you been thinking of someone and had a thought pop into your head to send them a card? These are what I like to call "God's nudges." He taps us on the shoulder and suggests in that still small voice that we reach out to someone who needs an encouraging word or an uplifting message. I believe god gives us these opportunities all the time but because we are too busy or too distracted we miss out on the blessing we could give and the one we could receive.

On Saturday I was in Massachusetts at the New England States Conference for the Miss America Program. At noon time I realized that the young woman who I had spoken with in the hall was Miss America, Katie Stamm. She was so down to earth and so friendly that I just took her for one of the young women attending the affair.

I am a camera hound and I decided that I'd like to get my picture with Miss America. So I began looking for the opportunity. I said something to a friend of mine and he invited me to the private rehearsal for the evening show. Sure enough Miss America was there and I got my photo.

The truth is that I only got the photo because I was looking for the opportunity and took it when it came. I pray that we all might be just as diligent with the opportunities that God provides to be a blessing to the world in which we live.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Got time?

How much time do you spend with God? Watch this and then ask yourself if you can't find a little more time.


Monday, September 7, 2009

A home to come back to

Food and fairs seem to go hand in hand. I went to the Woodstock Fair today and I ate sweet buttered corn, a blooming onion, and a hot fudge Sundae. The food smelled so good I could have eaten even more. The smells were so intoxicating and you couldn't get away from it. The folks I was with today ate even more. Barbecued chicken, smoked sausage dogs, funnel cakes and corn dogs were on tap for them.

It's funny how people who are usually pretty good about diets and capable of avoiding junk food just lose control at the fair. I guess it just goes to show that we all have our weaknesses. We like to pretend that we have it all together, especially at church. When we get together with others of faith we try to hide the fact that we struggle with this or that. We put up a wall of defense and hide behind it.

Yet God gave us the church, the fellowship of believers, to build up and encourage one another. In the early days the church shared everything in common. They took care of each other. When someone stumbled, someone was there to pick them up again. The church still does that. We don't always get it right but we keep trying. The church has been called a hospital for the sinner or the sick and I think that is how God set it up.

I pray that my congregation, and churches across the world, will try harder to live up to this calling so that the lost, the sick, the troubled, the weary will have a place to come home to and find the love of God.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Who wants a plastic Jesus

I came across this video and it really got me thinking about the lies we tell ourselves. They allow us to put off dealing with the real issues in our lives. We pretend everything is alright but beneath the masks we wear, we are hurting. Because we don't admit it, we can't change anything.

So how do we turn it around. First we get on our knees and spend a little time with Jesus. Prayer changes things. When we open up to Jesus and share our hurts, our doubts, our failings, we can begin to address them and make changes in our lives.

Then we can find a few Christian friends who we can get together with on a regular basis. They will help us stay real so we can honest with ourselves. If you don't have these kind of friends now, then find a church and look for people you can relate to.

Third, since you are seeking out a church, find one where you can worship and feel the presence of God. How will you know God is there? You will know. You will sense it in the people, the worship, the sacred space. It will help you put your life in perspective.

You don't have to end up like the guy in this video. You can rediscover a meaningful faith and a wonderful relationship with God again. Jesus said, If you seek him, you will find him. That's a promise. So go to it.

Be blessed. Cal

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Time to take out the trash

It's garbage night. I took out the trash after I got home and put it out on the curb. I gathered up all the recyclables and put them on the sidewalk. It's a ritual in our house on Thursday nights. In the twenty four years we've lived in Norwich, in the four different houses we have inhabited, we have rarely missed garbage day. On the few times we did miss it, we regretted it. We had a mess the next week. It was an ugly sight.

I wonder why we don't look at the garbage in our lives the same way. We let anger, grudges, jealousy, pettiness and so much more build up in our lives and dont' make it a point to get rid of it on a regular basis. Jesus invites us to come to him with our burdens and to let them go. Yet we prefer to carry them with us and let them weigh us down. As a result our lives are messed up.

If you've been carrying around a burden, it's time to let it go. Take out the trash and give it to Jesus.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Excuses will eventually go away

Yesterday afternoon I noticed that my bicycle was gone. My daughter had taken it for a ride on Monday and left it in the driveway close to the house. On Tuesday afternoon I came home and it was gone. I was pretty upset at first. Then I realized that for the last twenty years I was planning to go bike riding regularly. In that time I only went less than ten times.

As long as I had the bike I could keep the illusion alive. I could keep trying to convince myself that I was really going to do it. Yet having the bike didn't do it. It would have taken something more for me to take that next step.

So what happens when you take away the source.? All the excuses disappear. It dawned on me that I was never going to ride that bike. The truth is that we all have lots of excuses. We try to kid ourselves and pretend we are going to do this or that. As long as we have some prop out there that allows us to kid ourselves we never have to face the fact that we are just making excuses.

So what are you making excuses about? What have you been "not doing?" Have you been talking about getting back to church? Have you been planning to get involved in some ministry? Have you been planning on visiting that sick friend? Stop pretending and get out and do it. The truth is that we don't have forever. Something will happen and we will be forced to face that fact that we've been making excuses. Then it will be too late. So as Nike says, "Just do it!"